How to recover a lost item in 3 simple steps

If you ever forget an object in a public place or establishment, there are three steps you can follow to try to recover it, in the following order:


1. Return to the place where you left it

First, go back to the location where you mistakenly left or lost your item. It’s possible that it’s still there and no one has picked it up. If it’s not where you left it, look around, as someone may have moved it to make way, sit down, or for any other reason.


2. Claim your item

If you don’t find your belongings in the place where you last left them, proceed to the second step and try to claim your item in the appropriate location:

If you lost your item in a large facility (such as an airport, subway, or train station), there may be a dedicated lost and found office. In any case, ask at the information desk to find out where you should go to recover it. It’s highly likely that a member of the cleaning or security staff, or another employee, may have found your item and taken it to the lost and found office.

Conversely, if you lost your item in a small public establishment, simply ask at the counter or speak to an employee to see if anyone knows anything or has seen your item. The workers themselves may have taken it to safeguard it in case the owner returned.

Finally, if you lost your item in a public area, go to the citizen service office where they will direct you to the lost and found department. If your belongings are not there, leave your contact information, and they will notify you if someone turns them in at a later time.


3. Leave a message

If none of the above steps have worked, you can try one last attempt: leave a message at the location where you lost your item. Simply write a message on a piece of paper and hang it in a visible place, including your phone number or email address, explaining that you forgot your item and requesting that anyone who knows its whereabouts contact you. It’s possible that someone took it when they saw it abandoned to prevent theft, and they are currently holding onto it because they haven’t had the chance to turn it in or didn’t know where to deliver it.

There’s also the possibility that the person who has taken possession of your item may have shared the information with others who frequent the same place. When they see the notice and discuss it with the person who took your item, that person might feel pressured by social norms and shame to contact you. For example, imagine a worker in an airport restroom who keeps the camera you left behind and tells their coworker, “Look at this cool camera I found, someone must have forgotten it, poor person.” And there it remains until the coworker sees the notice and mentions it to the worker in question. In order to maintain a minimum level of professional dignity and human ethics, that worker will be obliged to return the camera to its rightful owner since no one wants to appear as a bad person in their workplace.


Final Tip for Recovering Lost Items

If, after following all the previous steps, you haven’t been able to recover your item, accept that you have lost it for good.

Try to come to terms with it and don’t dwell on it. There are unscrupulous people everywhere, and someone must have taken it unlawfully.

Learn from this experience and be more cautious in the future. Above all, if you ever find an abandoned item, hand it over or inform the relevant authorities to ensure that its rightful owner doesn’t go through what you have experienced.